Netanyahu distances himself from his own policy?
Now listen to Benjamin Netanyahu:
Aug. 31 (Daily Mail) –Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has distanced himself from an influential rabbi after he said Palestinians and their President Mahmoud Abbas should ‘perish from the world’.
Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, spiritual head of the religious Shas party in Israel’s government, gave a fiery sermon as Middle East peace talks were set to begin next week.
‘God should strike them and these Palestinians – evil haters of Israel – with a plague.’
Mr Netanyahu said Israel wanted to reach a peace deal with the Palestinians that would ensure good neighbourly relations.
A statement from his office said: ‘The comments do not reflect Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s view or the position of the government of Israel.’
It added that Mr Netanyahu is going to the peace talks with a goal of ‘reaching an agreement with the Palestinians that will put an end to the conflict’.
Mr Abbas’ government responded angrily and demanded that the Israeli government put a stop to what it described as a ‘culture of hatred in Israel toward Palestinians’.
U.S. State Department spokesman P.J.Crowley condemned the rabbi’s comments in a statement, saying they were ‘not only deeply offensive, but incitement such as this hurts the cause of peace’.
The statement added: ‘As we move forward to relaunch peace negotiations, it is important that actions by people on all sides help to advance our effort, not hinder it.’
President Barack Obama’s administration is hosting Israeli and Palestinian leaders in Washington this week to try to restart direct Middle East peace negotiations after a nearly two-year hiatus.
Rabbi Yosef, who was born in Iraq, has made similar remarks before, most notably during a Palestinian uprising in 2001 when he called for Arabs to be annihilated and said it was forbidden to be merciful to them.
He later said he was referring only to ‘terrorists’ who attacked Israelis. In the 1990s, rabbi Yosef broke with other orthodox Jewish leaders by voicing support for territorial compromise with the Palestinians.
By Mail Foreign Service
Last updated at 10:36 AM on 30th August 2010
Read more: Daily Mail
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